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Heidegger’s Secret

The secret of the brand experience resides within the mind of philosophers, not marketers, suggests Drake Bennett in Bloomberg Buisnessweek (2/20/14). Specifically, the German philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer and his mentor, Martin Heidegger, giants "in the field of phenomenology," or "how human beings perceive and make sense of the world around them" offer great guidance as to the products or services that truly mean something to people.

"It’s applying very theoretical constructs to very concrete situations," says Christian Madsbjerg, co-founder of Red Associates, a consulting firm. "I don’t think that the people that designed theories of identity ever, ever thought about toothbrushing, but it’s very, very helpful." What Christian and his Red colleagues do, essentially, is take the focus off product design per se, and focus instead on "the context in which people unthinkingly live their everyday lives."

This is uncovered by finding the gaps between what people say and what they actually do. For Adidas, this involved a recognition that just because archery is an Olympic sport doesn’t mean they should make archery equipment — especially if their target is young men who don’t watch the Olympic Games. Meanwhile, they were ignoring "100 million women on the planet dedicated to yoga." As co-founder Mikkel Rasmussen puts it: "I’m not interested in what’s useful or convenient; I’m interested in what’s meaningful."